AKRON -- Dewey Jones was baptized on Tuesday, nearly a year after a judge threw out a murder conviction that landed Jones in prison for 20 years.
The 53-year-old Akron man had maintained his innocence since 1993, when he was arrested for the robbery and murder of 71-year-old Neal Rankin, a Goodyear retiree who was found bound and shot to death in his home on Valentine’s Day.
Jones’ claims fell on deaf ears until the Innocence Project examined his case and testing revealed that Jones’ DNA was not present on evidence gathered by police at the scene of the crime.
Family, friends and supporters applauded as Jones was baptized in a pool at the YMCA in Akron, symbolically washing away 20 years of pain that saw him languish behind bars while his mother and one of his eight children passed away.
As he sat in prison and wondered if he would ever get out, Jones decided that he would not shave or cut his hair until he was free and baptized in the church. His new life on the outside will include a clean break from the past and Tuesday, he made good on a promise he made to his children, that he would cut off the hair that became a symbol of his years away from his family.
A clean shaven Jones told Fox 8, "to me, it's a new beginning, this is like the start of my life, sometimes I feel like I'm dreaming and I'm going to wake up in prison."
Akron Police and the State Attorney General's Office refuse to concede that Dewey Jones is not guilty and maintain the DNA results are inconclusive. Jones has asked a judge to declare that he is innocent so that he can seek compensation from the State of Ohio for wrongful imprisonment, but for now, he must be satisfied that he is free.
"I just knew that it was going to happen, I mean I've never doubted ever that the truth was going to come out”, said Jones. “But I don't understand why they fight so hard to not have to say you know, 'we're sorry, we know you're innocent’."